Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Dress for the Heat

Summer is nice in a lot of ways: warm weather, more free time, sun late into the evening. Today did not exemplify any of summer's best qualities. It was so hot that all other positives were eclipsed by the discomfort of trying to go about my business in the heat and humidity. Luckily, today I  put my heat wave management formula into practice when getting dressed. The magic combination:

lightweight fabrics + no layers + accessories

1. Lightweight fabrics

This one's easy. Trade denim and seasonless stretch for lighter materials. For work, this might be linen or a nice cotton, depending on how formal your office is. Wherever you spend your days, chances are short shorts aren't quite appropriate (although if they are - lucky you!) so fabric becomes especially important. You might have to wear trousers or a skirt, yes, but you can always keep cool by selecting the right material. 

2. No layers

Okay, this is hard for me. Summer's nice and all, but I love me some autumn/winter layers. Even in the spring as it heats up, you will find me stubbornly wearing a tank top with a light cardigan over it. I like the look, plus I am very sensitive to temperature so I appreciate the versatility. But: losing the layers makes it easier to deal on the hottest of days, because fewer layers mean less perspiration and general discomfort. 

The key is finding pieces that are modest and stylish enough to wear without another layer. Step away from the spaghetti-strap tank tops! I love them, but only under things - my bra strap does not need to see the light of my workplace, thank you very much. Embellished tees are a good way to go, as are light woven shirts and voluminous tops, if you're into those. I'd stay away from any clingy knits. 

For some conservative offices (any attorneys and CPAs out there?), this might not be practical, though - a jacket is expected. I'd suggest planning an outfit that is fine to wear at your desk and around the office. Bring a coordinating jacket or sweater that you can toss on in case of a meeting or visit to a client. 

3. Accessories

If you're going to lose the layers but still be stylish, the right accessories are a must. An outfit that might normally be dressed up by a sweater or jacket might get the same boost by switching from flats to heels. A statement necklace might make that pretty tee that's just a tad too low-cut to wear to X event just fine my drawing the eye up and away. When you're wearing only a couple of pieces, spend the time you would spend layering to accessorize instead - your outfit can look just as put-together, and you won't die of heat exhaustion!

Some examples:

A casual work outfit, for someplace like my job at a bead store:

heat wave casual set

Shirt top, $7.99
Forever21 flower skirt, $15
Nine West rubber shoes, $41
G by Guess black jewelry, $19

A business-casual outfit:

business casual heat wave

Rubbish, $25
TopShop cropped capri pants, $76
Miss KG stiletto pumps, $112
Adele Marie layered necklace, $31
Buckle belt, £10

And finally, a look appropriate for a pretty formal environment:

business formal heat wave

Dorothy Perkins linen skirt, £15
ASOS t strap heels, $53
River Island floral earrings, $6.90
Elizabeth & James blue cotton 'School Boy' button front shirt, $158

What are your strategies for dressing nicely in unbearably hot weather?


Carole said...

I have a whole bunch of ribbed tank tops in various colors that I got at Chico's. I like to wear one and carry a jacket or sweater, which I put on when I get to the (air-conditioned) office.

Sadly, this year the office a/c isn't up to par, so I've taken to wearing lightweight dresses with open-weave crochet tops for when clients show up.

Elizabeth said...

I do love the Chico's tank tops! They're nice enough that it's not a disaster if you're seen wearing only that for a minute. Also, on me at least, they're long enough to belt - bonus.